Huey Long, "The Kingfish," was born in Winnfield, Louisiana, on August 30, 1893, to a poor farm family of strong religious convictions. He attended the local public schools. Although he was eager to attend college, there was no money; at the age of 16 he was on his own as a door-to-door salesman. He studied law for six months at the University of Oklahoma in 1912; he later finished the course at Tulane University and was admitted to the bar in 1915.
He quickly entered politics and was elected state railroad commissioner in 1917. An energetic campaigner, Long became popular for his grassroots oratory. Defeated for the governorship in 1924, he was elected in 1928, campaigning on a platform of free schoolbooks, paved roads and improved hospitals. As governor, he enlarged the state university at Baton Rouge to accommodate more students. His rise to power during the Depression years capitalized on the people's needs. His bold use of authority and state funds nearly led to his impeachment in 1929, but proceedings collapsed in the state senate. Elected to the U.S. Senate in 1930, he did not take his seat until January 1932. His proposed "Share the Wealth" program, which promised every family $5,000 and the confiscation of large estates, made him a presidential prospect for 1936.
At the height of his power, while visiting the state house in Baton Rouge, Long was assassinated by Dr. Carl Weiss. He died on September 10, 1935, and is buried on the grounds of the state capitol.